[AW] Sword&Sorcery or Fantasy AW

edited May 2019 in Story Games
So, obviously there have been a lot of genre adaptations of apocalypse world: dungeon world, noir world, etc.

I’ve recently been reading Wake, and been puttering around the idea of a medieval or s&s AW as a result - with the savvyhead adapted to alchemy, etc. the goal would be to retain much of the AW flavor, rather than DW’s DnD flavorings, though the trappings might be similar.

The question that comes to mind is whether anyone’s had any experiences they’d care to share regarding adapting AW to a different setting rather than to a different genre. Any pitfalls or tips to be aware of?


  • I played a really fun campaign of Apocalypse World: Fallen Empires. It's a minimal re-skin of AW to a swords and sorcery setting. Our premise was that a fantastical equivalent of the Roman Empire had just collapsed and the players were one of several pagan bands trying to find a place in the potential dark age.

    We just played it like Apocalypse World (addressing threats to a small precarious community, rather than going off on adventures) and it went off without a hitch.
  • Yes, Fallen Empires is the obvious go-to.

    There is also Hyborian Ages, if you can find it, World of Conan, and The Sword, the Crown, and the Unspeakable Power, and probably many others by now.

  • I own and have read The Sword, The Crown, and the Unspeakable Power (SCUP) and I have decided not to run it (though I imagine someone could change my mind). For one, I found it too loose for my tastes in how the characters are supposed to interact. Scarcity and small communities bind the characters together in Apocalypse World. In SCUP, each PC is part of their own faction potentially spanning a continent, and it (by my read) is on the MC to tie them together and put pressure on their (largely abstracted) resources. It seems like a game that requires a tight holding environment (pressure binding the PCs together) without providing structure for that. (The first session advice tells the MC to just ask the characters what they do on a typical day.) Not having played it, I am eager to hear other folks' experience with this.

    The second reason that I've avoided SCUP is that one of the playbooks is a torturer, who has a move that lets them get accurate information from other characters. It seems to work like the Brainer, except that torture is a real thing (unlike mind control) that doesn't yield good information. Burning Wheel and Sigmata have rules about how torture work that meshed with my understanding of it (Chad Walker shared the Sigmata exerpt here). To see a rule where a player character uses pain as a currency to exchange for information seemed both facile and offensive.
  • If you are looking for a lighter system than AW, I really enjoy All Men Must Die by Paul Riddle. It's written as a Game of Thrones hack for Undying, but I have played it in other fantasy-feudal settings with great effect.

    It's diceless, with moves using a currency called Fate that can be refilled in scenes where characters reflect on their destinies. The result of this economy is scenes that alternate between very high stakes and thoughtful reflection.

    Also (unlike Fallen Empires or SCUP), all the moves are designed to work the same way against PCs and NPCs. It is assumed that the player characters are not an adventuring parties but rivals or tenuous allies, and the rules support combat and intrigue between players (so the pressure to bring drama is not solely on the GM).
  • Finally, Sage LaTorra is working on a Game of Thrones rpg built off Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World: Dark Age.

    I haven't played it, but I am hoping to try it soon. It looks pretty clever.
  • I really don't like The Sword, The Crown, and the Unspeakable Power for many reasons. But mainly I just really don't like A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • moconnor that's a really good rules excerpt.
  • edited May 2019
    I have this free (PWYW) on drivethru:

    I know I am linking my own game, but it's free, so what the hell... It was born as a mix of Vikings, GoT and the Last Kingdom and similar.
    It uses the AW rules, yes, but with several innovations and twists, and if you look for a framework which can be perhaps more focused on bringing the characters together, I hope it has what it takes (it provides several Table Moves which are used to rotate the GM role and orchestrate the passage of time and so on).
    Warning 1: it's just a beta (but I believe it has enough material to get you started).
    Warning 2: it has a lot of material that needs to be printed, besides the usual character sheets.

    If you get to play it, I'd love to hear how it went! And if you just read it, I am still interested in some feedback - including the reasons why you eventually decided to play something else instead :-)
  • Cool ! Thank you
  • moconnor that's a really good rules excerpt.
    This convinced me to click through to the Twitter discussion, and I ended up spending a good deal of time reading it. Some fascinating stuff in there, including another really good rule for torture from some game about witches.

    Very interesting reading!
  • edited May 2019
    Ok back to what the OP asked for;

    When I made my first hack I wanted to change it all, and certainly changed a lot. But looking back I could have done a lot less to achieve my objectives. I started to rewrite my sci fi game a lot closer to original Apocalypse World, but that's sort of stalled.

    I will say through this whole process I have learned how surprising sublte and interconnected little bits can be. You won't know a thing needs to be changed or reverted until several iterations.

    My advice is do a play test with just notes with some friends, see what you and them are actually interested in playing. Don't worry about making a finished product. Then focus your re-skinning there. Honestly you can get pretty far that way.

    And yeah Fallen Empires is right there too.
  • I’ve also long considered playing an AW campaign in a fantasy setting. Literally just taking the rules as written and “reskinning” then as we go. I still think it would be quite doable (and really fun, with the right group), although since then the creation of Fallen Empires made me put off the idea indefinitely. (It has the benefit of being a complete game, but the disadvantage of having all the Colour preselected for us instead of allowing a group the rather fun exercise of reskinning as we go.)
  • Last year I wrote a full S&S hack in French. It should have been generic S&S but was adapted to REH’s Conan by choice of the publisher.

    I started with what I think are the big “rules” of that genre, and each time I explained how it was conveyed in the game system. I also proposed 3 approaches of the game depending of what players (MC included) wanted : limited choices of playbooks/moves for a prewritten adventure, sandbox/improv for a few heroes playbooks, sandbox for heroes and villains playbooks (where a player can be Conan, while another is Thulsa Doom, much more vanilla AW feeling).
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